There’s no place like home

As construction on the new St. Joseph’s Residence progresses nicely, the temporary inconveniences experienced by our Carter-May ladies have increased.

Thanks to the dedication and efforts of Shawn Mellin, project architect with Glick/Boehm and Associates, and the construction crews of HighTower Construction, we are on schedule and the quality of the work is outstanding. (I know where I am going during the next hurricane watch.)

The saying goes, “You have to break an egg to make an omelet,” and there is no doubt that we are in a bit of a mess.

Janine Bauder says, “People keep asking me if anyone is living in here.”

Don’t let the exterior fool you. There is no doubt that from the outside, the facility on Ingram Road in Charleston is a construction zone. A loud, gasoline powered generator kept the refrigerator running and the heat going last Thursday as electricians disconnected power in order to move the main electric pole, and work continues on the new roof. The noise of heavy work boots overhead sounded more like a herd of reindeer than the patter of little feet. One resident kept time with the pounding by chanting “Bang!” with every thud, and there was some debate about how helpful my singing “All I want for Christmas are my two front doors” was.

Inside, however, is another story. Janine and her staff, with the help of volunteers, have kept the holiday spirit alive. The Christmas decorations are up and the usual warm and caring atmosphere is evident everywhere. The Volunteer Recognition and Christmas Party, reminiscent of the original “Silver Teas,” was a delightful success. It may look like chaos outside, but the inside reflects the joys and blessings of this Christmas season.

The Ladies’ Guilds of Sacred Heart and St. Joseph churches, students from MUSC and Charleston Southern University, AmeriCorps volunteers, and folks from John Wesley United Methodist Church have done everything from bringing in decorations, baking cookies, making gingerbread houses, and generally spreading good will and Christmas cheer. The residents were even treated to a special lunch at May Forest, the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy Motherhouse, at the invitation of longtime volunteer Sister Marcella Zwingmann.

A house is made of walls and beams but a home is built with love and dreams. There is no shortage of either at this Catholic Charities facility. The St. Joseph’s Residence is a dream well on the way to becoming a reality. That reality can’t come too soon for several of our retired priests for whom increasing frailty has brought isolation and a sense of loneliness and lack of purpose. Our vision is to create a home for these priests that will reflect our Roman Catholic identity, encourage independence in the context of a community, promote prayer and spiritual growth, offer opportunities for meaningful activity and ministry, and provide a loving atmosphere where they can live with dignity. In short, our mission is to create a home in the truest sense of the word.

The bottom line for the Carter-May ladies is: “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” The question from our retired priests is: “How soon can I move in?”

Please remember the St. Joseph’s Residence as you consider your year-end charitable giving.

Dorothy Grillo is director of Social Ministry for the diocese.